Kanye West is being sued by a fan for making his new album widely available after promising it as an exclusive to the streaming service Tidal.
Jay Z’s company Sean Carter Enterprises and streaming service Tidal, which Jay Z owns, are also targeted in a proposed class action lawsuit by fan Justin Baker-Rhett and law firm Edelson over West’s album “The Life of Pablo,” which came out back in February 2016.
The lawsuit references a tweet from Kayne in February about where the album would be available: “My album will never never never be on Apple. And it will never be for sale. You can only get it on Tidal.”
But at the start of April, the album became available to stream on platforms like Apple Music and Spotify and was very briefly available to buy on West’s website.
The lawsuit calls the about-face a “deceptive marketing ploy” and accuses West of “fraudulently inducing customers to subscribe to Tidal.”
The lawsuit alleges that the promise of “The Life of Pablo” as a Tidal exclusive gave the streaming service a massive boost: “Mr. West’s promise of exclusive access to The Life of Pablo conferred an enormous benefit upon Tidal: a tripled subscriber base, replete with access to the personal and financial data of its more than two million new subscribers.”
These two million users are worth as much as $84 million (£59 million) to Tidal, the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit is seeking damages, restitution, and “an order requiring Tidal to delete the private information of Plaintiff and the Class members that it collected, cancel all outstanding negative options of any free trials created during the class period, and cease any monetization efforts relying on the illegally obtained information.”
Tidal was bought by Jay Z and relaunched in March 2015, but since then it has suffered a number of missteps. Its launch event was deemed weird by critics, the public reception to it has been lukewarm, and it has been cycling through CEOs as it struggles to gain traction.
Sean Carter Enterprises did not immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment outside of US business hours. Kanye West was not immediately reachable for comment. Tidal did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
The launch of “The Life of Pablo” was a surreal affair: Very briefly available to purchase, there were multiple technical issues and Kanye West has continued to tweak the tracks long after its official unveiling at an exclusive event at Madison Square Garden. At one point, he even begged Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Page to give him a billion dollars to fund his ideas in a bizarre stream-of-consciousness string of tweets. There has been no response from Facebook or Google to date.
by Rob Price